|English | Español||March 23, 2018 | Issue #46|
Nancy Davies’ Book The People Decide: Oaxaca’s Popular Assembly Is Printed and Ready to Ship
A New Publisher of Books Reflects on How We Are Bypassing the Commercial Book Industry, and Offers some Special Packages to Readers and Bloggers
By Al Giordano
Click here to order a copy of the first edition of “The People Decide: Oaxaca’s Popular Assembly” by Nancy Davies (2007, Narco News Books) with your donation to The Fund for Authentic Journalism. (Cover Art by Sanya Hyland, © 2007 Narco News Books)
In my preface (it doesn’t appear online) for the book, I wrote:
For five months of 2006, from June 14 to November 25, Oaxaca City (and much of the southern Mexican state that bears the same name as its capital) was a “government-free zone.” This cultural and geographic pearl, cradle of the Zapotec and other ancient civilizations, was not governed from above, but rather self-governed by a popular assembly. In other words, the people managed their affairs without a bureaucracy or a state…
The rebels didn’t merely explode in spontaneous “days of rage” against tyranny. They carefully championed an alternative: self-organization. And this is the story that Nancy Davies—a resident of Oaxaca for the past eight years—tracked discreetly while hordes of reporters swarmed into the war zone chasing the wafting aroma of teargas to the next street skirmish. Instead of rushing off to the barricades (although her reporting also contains her eyewitness testimonies to what she saw, heard, smelled, and felt at those occupied intersections), she headed more frequently to and from the assembly hall. There, she chronicled the birth of the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO, in its Spanish initials), and how it engaged in self-government, supplanting the state for all those months…
By looking below, and carefully listening to what the participants in this history were saying, Nancy Davies got the big story that the pack-journalists missed, and made a lasting impact that will help the Oaxaca revolt of 2006 be better understood, replicated and improved upon for years to come.
The book is not available on Amazon or other companies like it (which demand exorbitant profits although they do none of the labor of creating most of the books they sell) or through any other commercial distributor. As with everything else we’ve done at Narco News, we’ve cut out the middlemen and mediators to bring the news – for the first time, now, in book form – directly to the public.
How did that happen? We didn’t need any financing from a bank: Narco News readers made it possible, through more than 200 donations to The Fund for Authentic Journalism, to print the first thousand copies. Each of those donors is receiving the first books, hot off the presses. The book has already shipped to those that ordered it online, and in the coming days will ship to those that sent your contributions via snail mail.
And judging from the book’s popularity at four events held already in Quebec and the United States where it was available, Narco News Books is showing that the middlemen and mediators are unnecessary for a book to succeed. At the Montreal Anarchist Book Fair on May 19, seventy-five readers donated to The Fund for Authentic Journalism and walked away with a gift copy of the book. At three subsequent events in Montpelier and Burlington, Vermont, 30 more contributed and received the book.
But we’re new at book publishing, and we’ve learned a few things already in the process. They mirror our experience with journalism: After all, taking on the decaying book industry is a lot like taking on the decaying media industry…
International shipping costs are expensive! Whereas it costs less than three dollars to ship a book within the United States (where the books were printed), and less than five from the US to Canada, the postage cost to send a book from New York to Europe and other continents turned out to be $10 or more per book. Nonetheless, the many donors from places as far away as Hong Kong, London, Helsinki, Rome and Berlin that donated to make the book possible will receive (or have already received) it. Unfortunately, from this day forward, shipping and handling costs outside of the US and Canada will reflect the actual postage cost (see The Fund for Authentic Journalism web page for details).
Commercial Media book reviews are overrated! The fact that more than 300 copies of The People Decide were already moved within one week of printing without a single “review” in a Commercial Media publication disproves a major myth about book publishing: that Commercial Media attention is necessary for the public to want a book. Most book publishers spend small fortunes sending “review copies” to commercial newspapers and magazines. I used to work at some of those publications. Do you know what happens to those books? They end up piled on a table in the newsroom en route to the home bookshelves of reporters and other staff members, where they loll often unread, and rarely reviewed in print. (And if the book happens to contain, like that of Nancy Davies, better and more accurate reporting on a story than that by the newspaper or magazine’s own reporters, fugghedaboutit!). Meanwhile, mediocre and unthreatening books are exalted and placed on dubious “bestseller” lists.
Bloggers and Independent Media move books! Before the Internet became a popular choice for reading, small and independent bookstores were already being driven out of business by large chain stores like Barnes & Noble and Borders. Then came Amazon and the big online sellers, demanding as much as 60 percent off the cover price to sell the books online. The industry increasingly shaped its products to what the big chains would carry and, well, books themselves “dumbed down” just like newspapers and magazines for sale to upper class market niches. Anything truly new, innovative or radical got shunted aside. After so many years of boring their own readers into submission, some newspaper writers and authors have recently been having hissy fits over the rise of book reviewers on the Internet – bloggers and others – and blame them for the fact that newspapers, as they lay-off large numbers of employees, are cutting their own book reviewers from the roster. (The double link to Gawker.com is intentional, as it is covering, better than any other media, the messy decline and fall of commercial print media and its once supreme empires!) Anyway, here at Narco News we figure that if just one website can move 300 copies of an excellent book in the first week, many websites and bloggers can do even better. And this book is worth getting out there. Thus we are making free copies of the “galley proofs” of Nancy Davies’ The People Decide available to the first 40 bloggers or independent media producers that promise to review the book! To qualify, simply write me at firstname.lastname@example.org, confirm that you have the assignment to review The People Decide: Oaxaca’s Popular Assembly, name the publication, website or blog, and I’ll get back to you with the fine print. We’ll send you – blogger, authentic journalist, or independent media maker – the book free (for the cost of shipping only: three dollars in the US, five in Canada, ten anywhere else on earth) while supplies last. Make sure to include your snail mail address!
For other readers and organizations we make two special offers.
The price of this 234 page book is $17 plus shipping and handling. See The Fund for Authentic Journalism website for how to get your gift copy with a donation.
You’ll also read there about two special offers (so far only good in the US and Canada, due to shipping costs):
Study & Action Book Club Package: For a donation of $100 you’ll receive 10 (ten) copies of The People Decide plus the DVD The Other Oaxaca. This offer is ideal for organizations, educational groups, book clubs, booksellers and individuals seeking to break the information blockade on Oaxaca, Mexico’s popular pro-democracy movement.
Combo Package: For a donation of $50 you’ll receive The People Decide plus 2 (two) DVDs of Video Newsreels we produced in 2006: The Other Oaxaca and Delegate Zero in Yucatán and Quintana Roo.
See The Fund for Authentic Journalism website for details.
Your donations will go directly to support more authentic journalism from Latin America. And, if this works out, maybe Narco News Books will make more news available, quickly and accurately, through books, and while doing so have the kind of impact on the tired book industry that we’ve had for the past seven years on the corrupted Commercial Media industry. They are “paper tigers,” both.
- The Fund for Authentic Journalism